Magnolia officials approved a 4% pay raise Tuesday for essential personnel, with the increase lasting for the duration of the coronavirus emergency.

“They should be commended, number one, and they should be rewarded,” Mayor Anthony Witherspoon said.  

In a meeting held on Facebook Live with aldermen attending over the phone, Witherspoon said the temporary increase in pay is not a salary raise but comes in lieu of hazard pay, which is generally time and a half.

“The police department is working around the clock,” Witherspoon said.

All police department employees, the public works department director and supervisor, fire chief, city clerk and deputy clerk, municipal court clerk, municipal judge, city prosecutor and public defender will receive raises.

Witherspoon said many cities compensate essential workers with some form of hazard pay during crises. Most city employees were sent home in March and are on-call for only extreme situations.

The total cost to the city of the temporary increase is about $34,000, Witherspoon said.

“I know that traditionally hazard pay is time-and-a-half but that isn’t something that our budget can sustain,” he said. “The administration of justice must go on, as do the essential functions of the city.”

Aldermen approved a 3% raise for salaried employees and department heads and a 5.5% raise for hourly workers in November as a cost-of-living adjustment.

In other business, aldermen:

 • Authorized the city to advertise for bids for the Community Development Block Grant sewer improvement project in the Magnolia Gazette and the Enterprise-Journal.

• Paid Neel-Schaffer $9,325 for engineering services performed on the wastewater collection system project.

• Hired full-time patrol officer KeyAnna Martin and approved travel for her to attend the sixth annual One Loud Voice Conference and CAST Symposium in Biloxi in September.

• Approved the employee handbook and paid Miller & Miller Attorneys $2,560 for drafting it.

• Approved an ordinance approving mayoral executive power, which allows Witherspoon to issue orders related to the coronavirus response.

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